Acid reflux link to asthma may be aided by new test

Chronic heartburn is an uncomfortable condition that many people endure, but now a new test may offer relief to people with acid reflux who also experience heartburn-related asthma.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association’s publication Surgery, a study at the Institute for the Treatment of Esophageal and Thoracic Disease measured participants’ exposure to acid reflux within their airways. Gastric acid that seeps through the esophagus and into the lungs is a common cause of chronic coughing and asthma.

The researchers used a specially-designed catheter that they believe may be effective in identifying people who have acid reflux-related asthma.

Acid reflux, formally known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when the muscle at the end of the esophagus fails to close properly and allows stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it. Beside heartburn, chest discomfort, dry cough and difficulty swallowing are also symptoms of GERD.

“The real challenge has been our limited ability to effectively diagnose these patients and determine who precisely may benefit from surgical intervention,” said study author Blair Jobe, M.D., who directs the institute, which is part of the West Penn Allegheny Health System.

Jobe said the new testing method is more accurate in its measurement of GERD than previous procedures have been. As a result, the catheter measurement may be a better way to determine who needs asthma-related surgery and to help adults whose asthma does not respond well to medications.

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse reported that many healthcare providers recommend lifestyle and dietary changes for patients who suffer from GERD.

In addition, dietary supplements that aid in digestion may help relieve the symptoms of the disorder. Nu-Zymes from Dr. Newton’s Naturals is a supplement that keeps the digestive system functioning at its best by helping to alleviate occasional indigestion, acid reflux and lactose intolerance.